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Bid To Ban Bimini Dredging - But It's Already Begun

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

DESPITE frantic last-minute legal efforts by environmentalists to block it, dredging has begun in North Bimini. The Niccolo Machiavelli, dubbed “The Reef Destroyer”, started operations yesterday as part of Resorts World Bimini’s controversial construction of a cruise ship terminal, 1,000-foot pier and man-made island.

Photographs taken at the site show a tail of silt, thrown up by the giant dredger, moving north. Resorts World Bimini (RWB) announced yesterday that it had “officially commenced with the next phase of construction at the port of its top-flight destination resort”.

Last night, Bimini Blue Coalition, which is claiming that the project will cause irreparable damage to Bimini’s marine ecosystems, applied for an injunction in the Court of Appeal asking to stop developers.

Last week, the developers’ attorneys had given an undertaking not to dredge until they had given notice that they had all the relevant approvals and permits and provided copies to the Coalition.

Then, on Tuesday, they sent the Coalition what they claim are all the relevant documents, which include a letter of approval from Prime Minister Perry Christie, the Minister of Lands and Surveys.

Coalition lawyer Fred Smith countered saying the developers have not produced a permit from the Director of Physical Planning in accordance with the Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscape of the Bahamas Act.

Mr Smith yesterday sent a letter to the developers’ lawyer, John Wilson of McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes, saying that his team’s injunction application would come into effect at 6pm that day if Mr Wilson’s team did not respond to their letter saying that, contrary to what has been claimed, all relevant approvals and permits have not been provided.

RWB said yesterday: “With the beginning of the fully permitted dredging process, Resorts World Bimini is moving towards completing the construction of the port at Resorts World Bimini – a key component of RWB’s plans for the island – which will result in multiple benefits, including: multiple business opportunities, increased visitor spending, a year-round tourism season, easier transportation options for the island’s residents to visit loved ones from Miami and the availability of daily cargo service and more.”

The Resort also touted its role in helping to transform Bimini. Its statement said: “The business community on the island is enjoying tremendous benefits to the tune of over $2 million spent by RWB on goods and services. New businesses are opening throughout the island, and a chapter of the Chamber of Commerce is about to be established. Employment figures are up with just under 160 Biminites now employed at the Resort, and more anticipated to be hired during a job fair in the coming weeks.

“The construction of the port at Resorts World Bimini is part of the resort development and island enhancements which includes the paving of the roads, implementation of street lights and directional signage, the establishment of Heritage sites and attractions, and the creation of green spaces.”

However, Tom Ingram, executive director of the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA), joined others before him in saying that environmental degradation associated with the ferry pier project could have a negative affect on the economy of Bimini, destroying that island’s dive industry.

Mr Ingram said the dredging of 220,000 cubic yards of seafloor at the heart of Bimini’s pristine reef system could ruin what is a “recreational diving jewel” of the Bahamas.

“A very real concern to DEMA and to all diving businesses – especially those based in nearby Florida ­– is the fact that any environmental degradation, especially of the magnitude being described in the North Bimini Ferry Terminal Project EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) and its addendum, is likely to have a negative impact on the perception of pristine diving which Bimini now holds in the minds of diving consumers,” Mr Ingram said.

“As a result of this project, it is possible that the number of divers visiting Bimini will decline dramatically as public perception develops regarding this project’s potential environmental impact. Such a trade of one population for another could have devastating impacts on the number of divers visiting Bimini, with a resulting economic impact on Bahamas Dive Association members, DEMA members and the economy of Bimini,” Mr Ingram said.

DEMA, based in San Diego, represents the business and consumer interests of the recreational scuba and snorkel diving industries around the world. Its mission is to promote sustainable growth in safe recreational scuba diving and snorkelling while protecting the underwater environment.

“In our opinion, the potential economic upside of this project is inadequate when compared to the great risks involved with the potential for failure of this project to create positive economic benefit, and the long-term environmental risks involved,” Mr Ingram said.

Comments

BiminiHomeowner 5 years, 5 months ago

Perry Christie should be thrown out in the streets for allowing this.

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blackcat 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree 100%. What the hell was the point of the Environmental Impact Assessment if not to warn and advise the government? Instead of building up Bimini's economy by preserving something so special and dear to the island, we'll destroy everything for a couple of jobs and money to pad our already thickly-lined pockets.

Despite expert testimony from so many of the dangers of this, I cannot believe this government is going ahead with such a destructive process. It is so heartbreaking to know all the marine life they will kill in such a short span of time, and the long-term effects it will bring to the island, its people and culture. very, very sad.

Deals are made in the dark, politicians dodging questions and just feeding the public a bunch of lies and propaganda: "generally speaking there will be little damage". Playing us for fools and destroying our country all the while.

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BiminiRick 5 years, 5 months ago

Obie Wilchcombe has a huge, already cleared boondoggle in West End courtesy of the Ginn folks. Lots of promises but in the end...not much for Bahamians. At least there they only raped the land. In Bimini, we have no land...it's all about the water. So what do our politicians do? They let a huge mega corporation go in and destroy the ONLY tourist attraction Bimini has...diving and watersports. See Cape Eleuthera, West End, Great Harbour Cay, even Treasure Cay for examples of people coming in, destroying the natural beauty and then taking their money and running...leaving Bahamians to pick up the pieces. You wonder why foreigners come to this country thinking that the people are stupid? They just look at the folks in government, who are supposed to be the brightest and best, see what's there and figure out the rest. We vote these clown into office.

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tourist1001 5 years, 5 months ago

Why are we not seeing some aerial pictures???

Can the reporter Rashad Rolle, go for a 5 minute flight with a camera?????? Pictures are worth a thousand words.

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bigbadbob 5 years, 5 months ago

run some local boats out there and get in there way , this is just stupid any idea how big

220,000 cubic yards is 20,000 cement trucks full all that silt and damaged coral .

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 5 months ago

I can't believe this is happening. Not to home of the Bimini Road, not to the fishing capital of the Bahamas..this simply cannot be happening.

Paved paradise to put up a parking lot indeed.

SHAME on each and everyone of you sitting house members.

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ETJ 5 years, 5 months ago

The silence from those who "approved" this absolute desecration and abomination is deafening.

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John 5 years, 5 months ago

THESE PEOPLE KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE DOING!! They are going ahead with the dredging despite the protest and despite the environmental impact report. So now any effort to stop them will have to prove the damage. Not only that but once the dredging is done, they will claim it will cause even more damage to reverse it. Possession is nine tenths of the law..o but if you are a foreign investor, there is no law for you!

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Friend 5 years, 5 months ago

You know, too many Bahamians like to cry foul and make false statements and claims about things that they don't know about for sure! Every time some form of development come to this country there are some people who cannot wait to vent their opposition about it. This dock will benefit Bimini and the Bahamas on a whole in more than one way. It will generate more visitors from other islands as well, thus enhancing the well being of more Bahamians economically! Do you all remember what Bimini was like even just ten years ago? You loud -mouth people who can see only as far as your nose need to stop. The dredging for this small dock will ruin Bimini fishing industry? How many fishermen have been catching fish in that area for a living? Come on now and talk some sense, let me see you do so. Do you want Bimini just to be a tiny village where fishermen live? You all remind me of how the Republicans in the USA ripped Pres. Obama and his health care program. Do you know now that there is a deafening silence about that matter among them? The reason is because it works and many of them knew that all along. In two years after this dock goes into operation, I want to hear from John, Biminirick, Biminihomeowner, Blackcat, bigbadbob ,etc. Be wise and just don't have a mouth mainly for talking.

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John 5 years, 5 months ago

Obviously you are a paid propagandist. There is so much difference between the Obama health care plan in the United States and a barge named the Machavelli "reef destroyer" coming here and ripping up one of the most sacred part of God's ocean. Firstly, the Bahamas does not belong to the foreign investor or to the politician. It belongs to the Bahamian people. So if there is a dispute or opposition to something taking place, you don't just go and do as you please, but you allow natural justice to take its course. Remember when this same company, that is building this dock wanted to run night cruises from Florida to Bimini, authorities in the US stopped the cruises until they investigated and made sure nothing untoward was going on. Resorts Bimini Bay did not say, "we gonna do the cruises anyway, then they will give us the necessary permits". They stopped their operations and waited for clearance. So why should it be any different when it comes to Bahaman law? You call us loud mouthed but you seem to blowing the trumpet of someone else's horn. In a very long winded sort of way. When the fishermen in Key West were warned about overfishing the conch population, they felt there was plenty to go around. So they continued in their ways. Now conchs are so scarce in that area a complete ban has been placed on them. . "Scientists figure that the wild conch probably will never again support the commercial fishery that resulted in millions of pounds of conch meat being harvested a year, as it once was in the Florida Keys. But a revitalized wild population would reintroduce the conch to the state's marine environment, and let people come in contact with it." . "The conch, widely known throughout Florida for its pink-lipped shell, was restricted to a daily bag limit of 10 just a decade ago. That limit declined to two daily until a moratorium was placed on taking all conch last year"

This is a problem that started more than 40 years ago.

The sea is a live and living organism. When you damage essential parts of it, then the results will effect mankind for generations to come. Hope we hear from you in two years! FRIEND!

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John 5 years, 5 months ago

BTW isn't this the same government that has a law on the books that says Bahamians could be arrested and fined and jailed if caught cleaning fish on the beach? Quick gimme my passport and lemme stamp "foreign over Bahamian" in it.

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Friend 5 years, 5 months ago

Oh John, Oh Johnny my friend, I am one of the biggest advocate for the welfare of the Bahamas. This is my last comment on this matter. Nothing damage the marine environment of the Bahamas more than the high demand for fish and conch by the Bahamian people who live high on the Bahamian waters. I'll bet that you are have some form of sea food today, and most likely the rest of the week for dinner. Am I correct John? Look at the amount of wild hogs in Exuma for example. Some foreigners were shock to know that the Bahamian people haven't created a pork industry in the Bahamas. John, go and eat some pork, steak, chicken and vegetables for dinner sometimes. As early as 9:00 A.M. you guys are having boil fish, good God! For an healthy body, you need protein from meets my friend. Cut down on the heavy demand for fish and conch and that will go a long way to save the seafood industry in Bahama land. Have a good jerk pork cook out next week end, please I beg you.

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B_I_D___ 5 years, 5 months ago

And dredging up the sea bed and destroy hundreds of acres of pristine reef is good for the fisheries and environment?

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John 5 years, 5 months ago

He is obviously trying to poke fun at Bahamians and distract from the dredging going on. And that is the attitude many foreigners have towards Bahamians because they feel they come here with the prime minister's phone number in their back pocket and a key to the front door of the house of assembly. Many government ministers teach them how to disrespect Bahamians and allow them to do as they please. Foreign investment is important to this country but it must be eco-friendly investment. Go hurry up and dredge. Hurricane season soon come!

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